The second to last port stop on our cruise was at Kuşadası (Kusadasi), a lovely little Turkish town on the coast of this interesting and varied country.
Stepping out of the port area, we were instantly greeted by vendors keen to make a sale – we’d been told to expect this but found these Turkish men to be in good spirits and generally very entertaining, so much so that before we knew it we were signing the paper work on a fairly hefty purchase!
As a child, I have many, many memories of being dragged around rug shops by my dad. He was an avid shopper and loved picking up a bargain – especially a beautifully hand-knotted carpet.
Sadly, Dad passed away a little over a year ago but he’s never far from my memory – especially on this trip, as it was his love of the Amalfi Coast and Europe as a whole that drove our choice to spend the summer exploring the continent.
With the nature of this trip, I knew I wanted to make a special purchase whilst we were away in memory of my dad and a traditional Turkish rug felt like the perfect addition to our house; there’s no doubt he would have approved.
Popping in and out of a couple of shops, we’d pretty much decided against purchasing on the spot. The quotes we’d been receiving were up around €3000-4000 Euros which was outside of what we could justify spending. Each piece we’d seen was a beautiful work of art, but a bit rich for our blood.
As we wandered back towards the port we were invited into another rug shop and with nothing to loose, popped inside Ramsey Tribal Looms. As Turkish tradition goes, we were offered cups of Turkish tea (and in my case, the less-traditional option of a Diet Coke) and watched as rugs were paraded out in front of us.
We knew going in that we were on the hunt for an over-dyed rug. These rugs are pre-loved carpets that are then dyed anew, breathing new life into them. Being older rugs, they are generally well-made and of high quality. They create a gorgeous optical illusion because of the way they’re tied; each of these rugs looks lighter from one side and darker from the other, always glowing from the addition of silk to the wooden strands.
How much have we learnt about rugs over the course of one day of shopping? I must be my father’s daughter!
One caught our eye and when the price was negotiated down to a significantly lower point than the other shops, we tentatively signed the paperwork. We decided upon a gorgeous Ottoman sea blue rug, with patterns that amongst other things, represented love and the tree of life/immortality.
I don’t doubt this will be a purchase I treasure forever. I can’t wait to get it home, to see how it looks in our lounge and most importantly, to be reminded of Dad and our travels each time I set foot upon it.
Our first visit to Turkey was far too short and we’ve had a taste, we can’t wait to go back! Do you have a favourite spot in Turkey? We’d love to hear your recommendations.
If you too are interested in purchasing a genuine Turkish rug whilst visiting the country, their government do everything they can to streamline the process for you. We were surprised by how small our 2.4m x 1.7m rug folded down to – if you had spare baggage allowance, it would fit in an extra suitcase. As we’re backpacking around, taking it home with us on the spot wasn’t an option, but the Turkish government will pay to have your purchase packaged up and shipped to you, anywhere in the world, paying customs fees/duties on your behalf.
PS: If you’re stopping off in Kuşadası (Kusadasi) but would like something else to do, the town is not far from the ancient city of Ephesus which was once the site of many great civilisations (as early as the 11th century BC). If you’d rather stay in the town itself, there’s no lack of shops and stalls selling leather goods, Turkish delight, baklava and of course, Turkish rugs. The main street hosts a number of lovely restaurants that look out over the beach and the boardwalk offers up great views as you walk off your lunch. There are two main beaches within walking distance from the main town; one on the right which isn’t particularly enticing up close and another to the right in a little cove which appeared to be the better option (as you stand with your back to town, facing the ocean).